Prostate Cancer

The Diagnosis | The Treatment | Questions

The Prostate

The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut, found only in men.
It surrounds the first part of the tube (urethra) which carries urine from the bladder to the penis.
The prostate produces a thick white fluid called semen which mixes with the sperm produced by the testes. It also produces a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA) which turns the semen into liquid.
The growth of prostate cells and the way the prostate gland works is dependent on the male sex hormone, testosterone, which is produced in the testicles.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer generally affects men over the age of 50.
It differs from most other cancers in the body, because small areas of cancer within the prostate are very common and may remain unchanged for some time before they begin to grow.
About one third of men over the age of 50 have some cancer cells within their prostate and nearly all men over the age of 80 have a small area of prostate cancer.
These cancers grow very slowly and so, particularly in elderly men, may never cause any problem.
In other cases, the cancer can grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the body, particularly the bones.

How Common is it in Hong Kong?

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The Causes
Although the causes of cancer of the prostate are unknown there are some factors that are known to increase the likelihood of developing the disease, such as:

Men who have close relatives (a father, uncle or son) who have, or have had cancer of the prostate, are more likely to develop it.
Certain races have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer than others. In general, Asian men have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

The Symptoms
The symptoms of both benign prostatic enlargement and malignant tumours are similar and may include any of the following:

Difficulty in passing urine
Passing urine more frequently than usual, especially at night
Pain on passing urine
Uncommonly, blood in the urine
Inability to urinate or weak, interrupted flow
Frequent pain in the lower back, hips and upper thighs

If you have any of the above symptoms it is important that you have them checked by your doctor. But remember, most enlargements of the prostate are not cancer.